Suffolk County Legislature Poised to Raid $33 Million From Sewage Treatment Fund. URGENT Action Required Today Before 1 PM

Whether from ignorance or cynicism, The Suffolk County Legislature will be voting today on a resolution to appropriate (raid) $33 million from a voter approved fund that is dedicated to the purpose of addressing Long Island’s sewage treatment / water quality issues.    Please contact your local legislator today and let him / her know that this violation of public trust will not be tolerated, that we need desperately to address the issue of polluted ground water before all our bays, rivers, and lakes are killed off by red tide, brown tide, rust tide, blue-green algae, and other algal blooms.   Tell them it is their responsibility to safeguard Long Island’s future, and not to betray the public trust by misappropriating funds in order to paper over their budgetary shortfalls.   They have already stolen $24 million from this fund, and will steal the rest if we let them.   A responsible legislature would be seeking a way to find the billions it will take to address our sewage / septic tank issue, rather than taking what funds there are.

As per Bob Deluca, President of The Group For The East End, here’s what we have to do:

Contact both your county legislator (http://legis.suffolkcountyny.gov/contact/contact.html) and the Suffolk County Executive (853-4000 or [email protected]) before 1 PM tomorrow afternoon and tell them that:

  1. Suffolk County Water Quality Protection Program is a voter-approved dedicated fund for clean water, not a slush fund to cover the County’s budget problems,
  2. You care deeply about clean water and that Suffolk County should be leading the way, instead of violating the public trust by raiding a dedicated Water Quality Protection Fund, and
  3. If the County wants to change how this vital fund is used for the future, it needs to go back to the public that authorized the fund and put the issue on the ballot for voters to decide.
  4. If you can make, it please attend today’s legislative session at 1 PM in Hauppauge. Directions below.

Here is the full text of Bob’s call to action:

Dear Friend of Clean Water,

If I hadn’t just read the resolution, I might not have believed it!

As you may know, tomorrow, just one day after today’s election, the Suffolk County Legislature is poised to adopt its 2014 operating budget.

Incredibly, the final budget proposal includes a provision that will “sweep” some $33 million from a portion of the voter-approved Suffolk County Water Protection Program, known as the sewer Assessment Stabilization Reserve Fund (ASRF). This fund is exclusively obligated under County law to provide support for sewer improvements, sewage treatment plant upgrades and the installation of residential and commercial enhanced nitrogen removal systems – the exact kind of sewage systems that many areas need to improve water quality.

Even though 32% of the total Water Quality Protection Fund (approximately $24 million annually) already goes to pad the County budget, over the last several years, the County has wanted more and more dedicated clean water funding to cover general operating expenses, debt service and pension costs.

The County has already “swept” millions annually to cover nearly 80 staff positions! Now they want another $33 million to cover more general expenses this year and for years to come. And unfortunately, we all know that once this money is taken, it’s just never coming back!

To date, there has very limited opportunity for public input and reaction to this raid on clean water funds, but there is still time to make your voice heard ahead of the final vote.

To that end, I strongly encourage you to contact both your county legislator (http://legis.suffolkcountyny.gov/contact/contact.html) and the Suffolk County Executive ((631) 853-4000 or [email protected]) before 1 PM  today and tell them that:

  1. Suffolk County Water Quality Protection Program is a voter-approved dedicated fund for clean water, not a slush fund to cover the County’s budget problems,
  2. You care deeply about clean water and that Suffolk County should be leading the way, instead of violating the public trust by raiding a dedicated Water Quality Protection Fund, and
  3. If the County wants to change how this vital fund is used for the future, it needs to go back to the public that authorized the fund and put the issue on the ballot for voters to decide.

Remarkably, this all comes at a time when Long Islanders are joining at every level to halt the precipitous decline in drinking water and surface water quality, largely due to sewage.

I will be attending the Legislature’s 1 PM meeting in Hauppauge tomorrow [today 11/6/2013], to speak during the public portion in opposition to this proposal, and I hope you will consider joining me. I know this is incredibly short notice, but we must all do what we can to restore the integrity of the Water Quality Protection Program and fight for the resources we need to protect and restore our bays and harbors for the future. If you cannot attend, please take a moment to email and call your elected officials tomorrow morning.

Thanks as always for all of your time and commitment to the conservation of all our natural resources.

Sincerely,

Bob DeLuca

Robert S. DeLuca
President | Group for the East End
Office: 631-765-6450 x213| Cell: 631-495-0601
Email: [email protected] | Web: www.GroupfortheEastEnd.org

Protecting the nature of the place you love

http://legis.suffolkcountyny.gov/contact/contact.html

Hauppauge Legislative Auditorium
Suffolk County Legislature
W.H. Rogers Legislature Building
725 Veterans Memorial Highway
Smithtown, NY 11787
Ph: (631) 853-4070 | Fax: (631) 853-4899

From the west: Take Northern State Parkway to the end where it merges with Veteran’s Memorial Highway. At the second light, make a left on to Old Willets Path. Make an immediate right into the County Complex. The William Rogers Legislative Building is the second building on the right.

From the east: Take the LIE west to Veteran’s Memorial Highway, or take Rte 347 west. Both roads will merge in Hauppauge. About 1 mile ahead after the merge, make a right at Old Willets Path and an immediate right into the County Complex. The William Rogers Legislative Building is the second building on the right.